George R. R. Martin has promised to spend much of 2017 finishing the sixth installment of his A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter. But don’t expect him to come up with a tidy, happy ending by the last page of the seventh book, A Dream of Spring.
“I’m not going to tell you how I’m going to end my book, but I suspect the overall flavor is going to be as much bittersweet as it is happy,” the author said during an hour-long question-and-answer session that Penguin House streamed live on YouTube from Guadalajara, Mexico.
The ending may also be quite long. Martin praised how lengthy the denouement of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series at the talk this month, saying he appreciates it more with each rereading.
Later, he gave a few other hints about what to expect in the next book in the series that inspired HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
“There are a lot of dark chapters right now in the book that I’m writing,” he said. “I’ve been telling you for 20 years that winter was coming. And winter is the time when things die, and, you know, cold and ice and darkness fills the world. So this is not going to be the happy, feel-good book that people may be hoping for. Some of the characters end in very dark places.”
“In any story, the classic structure is, ‘things get worse before they get better,’” Martin continued, “and things are getting worse for a lot of people.”
As for when we can expect the sixth book, Martin explained how he hopes his pace will pick up exponentially. “I’m hoping at some point ... I will see the finish line, and the work will go much faster,” he said.
Martin was peppered with wide-ranging questions related to his books on stage. The author stated again that he is in talks with HBO regarding “other shows.” He suggested that perhaps a slightly smaller Westeros universe (”The Five Kingdoms of Westeros”) would have been more manageable. And he said Tyrion probably would make a good leader in 2016. (“The recent American election could have turned out very differently if Hillary Clinton had dragons,” he joked.)
Asked how he writes female characters, which have been praised for their depth, Martin repeated a line oft-quoted by fans looking to prove their beloved series is medieval in setting only.
“I start from the basic presumption that women are people and that they have the same basic humanity as men. We want the same things. We want love. We want respect. We want to succeed in the world,” Martin said, prompting applause.
Watch the whole chat above.